Carbonic anhydrase and red blood cell anion exchange in the neotenic aquatic salamander, Necturus maculosus

Physiol Biochem Zool. May-Jun 1999;72(3):317-27. doi: 10.1086/316671.


Carbonic anhydrase (CA) activity in blood and other tissues and red blood cell (rbc) anion exchange were measured in the mud puppy, Necturus maculosus, in order to gain insight into the strategy for CO2 transport used by these neotenic salamanders and to further explore evolutionary relationships between rbc CA activity and anion exchange in nonmammalian vertebrates. CA activity was detectable in all of the tissues examined, but CA activity in blood was much lower than that in most vertebrates. There was no indication, however, that additional CA had been incorporated into the membrane fraction of other tissues to compensate for this low blood CA activity. In further contrast to most other animals, low levels of CA activity were also detectable in mud puppy plasma. Preliminary characterization of the rbc CA indicated that the Type II, fast-turnover enzyme was indeed present, but that there are a very low number of active sites in mud puppy rbc's. Further experiments showed that the rbc's were highly permeable to anions and that the relative rate of anion flux could be inhibited by 4, 4-diisothiocyanostilbene-2,2-disulphonic acid. Thus, the process of CO2 transport in the blood of mud puppies probably involves components of the Jacobs-Stewart cycle, as in most other vertebrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Carbonic Anhydrases / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes / physiology*
  • Ion Pumps / physiology*
  • Necturus maculosus / physiology*


  • Ion Pumps
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Carbonic Anhydrases